Three Colors: White
Drama | Polish and French with English subtitles | 87 minutes
Karol, a Polish emigré living in Paris, is being divorced by his beautiful wife Dominique. The grounds for the divorce are humiliating to Karol: He has not been able to consummate the marriage since their honeymoon. The French judge totally sympathizes with Dominique. Karol is stripped of his cash, his residence, his credit cards. He becomes a beggar in the Metro station, performing songs on his makeshift kazoo for spare change. A fellow Pole, Mikolaj, recognizes the Polish songs Karol is playing and strikes a conversation. Sensing Karol’s desperate situation, Mikolaj offers Karol a deal: He will fly Karol back to Poland, even though Karol doesn’t have money or a passport. In return Karol agrees to murder a depressed person who wants to die. The depressed person prefers to be murdered rather than have his family suffer the shame of his suicide. Mikolaj stuffs Karol in his large suitcase and checks it at the airport. Karol makes contact with Mikolaj in Warsaw. Mikolaj tells Karol that he is the person who wants to die. When Karol’s pistol shoots a blank, the killing does not take place. At a job he has, Karol overhears a rumor about the development of a large land deal. Karol manages to purchase pieces of the property and he becomes very wealthy. With money and a restored self-confidence, Karol schemes a way of getting revenge on Dominique. His plan succeeds but rather than be overjoyed, Karol is saddened by what he did. The truth is Karol is still deeply in love with Dominique.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 87%
- Metacritic Score: 88
- 75th Venice Film Festival, Winner, Golden Lion
- Ten Academy Award Nominations. Winner: Best Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón), Best Cinematographer (Alfonso Cuarón)
- Festivals: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York
Best Film of 2018: Time Magazine and The New York Film Critics Circle
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Kieslowski allows a great deal of apparent chance in his stories. They do not move from A to B, but wander dazedly through the lives of their characters. That lends to a certain suspense; since we do not know the plot, there is no way for us to anticipate what will happen next. He takes a quiet delight in producing one rabbit after another from his hat, hinting much, but revealing facts about his characters only when they must be known.
Kieslowski’s WHITE is a continuing testament to the Polish director’s poetic mastery. Like all of Kieslowski’s works, WHITE articulates a whole language of sensations, images, ironies and mystery–often with a minimum of dialogue. But it is no rarefied, abstract exercise. The movie, about a Paris-based Polish expatriate who has lost everything, aches with human dimension.
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